Monday, 19 May 2014

Sandeman's Walking Tours - The Lisbon Chapter

It's been such a lovely weekend! Celebrating friends' birthdays, far too much eating and drinking, and all in the beautiful sunshine! It feels like summer is well and truly here, and I'm hoping here to stay! It's been so nice sitting in various little parks and gardens in Brighton these last couple of days with lots of lovely people, and just feeling the vitamin D soak in. 

And by night, I've been trying to catch up with my holiday photos...!

So, day two in Lisbon saw me, Mum and Sarah wake up to a lovely sunny morning, and embark on the Sandeman's walking tour. These tours are great - the company works with hundreds of freelance self-employed guides over Europe, and so far any one I've been on has been brilliant. The guides are usually not just knowledgeable, but really entertaining, too! I guess it's in their absolute best interest to make the tour as fun and interesting as possible, beeecauuuse... it's FREE! Other than what YOU choose to tip them at the end. 

Our walking tour of Lisboa certainly did not disappoint. It was a really handy way to get our bearings a bit more, and was probably one of the highlights of the trip. The day started off with a pretty delicious breakfast too, with a quick stop off at the Tartine bakery, on the Rua Serpa Pinto. This was a great find. It had been unusually hard trying to find a place that sold coffee to go on our way in to the city centre (NOT ok...), so we were pretty happy anyway when we found lattes on offer at Tartine. The fact that these were washed down with some delicious pastries and almond croissants meant a pretty good start to the morning! It also cheered me up after our rubbish dinner experience the night before.


So, the tour itself started at the Camoes monument, next to Chiado Square. Camoes is considered one of Portugal's greatest poets, and his monument was built in 1867 to honour him and his works. The pedestal his statue is standing on is surrounded by more statues, depicting other literary and cultural figures from the 14th to the 16th century. It was also all covered in bird poo. Our tour guide, Doron, sat us down here for a whirlwind history lesson on Lisbon before we set off to tackle the hills of the city. I think he was trying to tell us about only having three rules in this picture. (I think the rules were to have fun, ask questions, and have fun).

These two statues are of António Ribeiro (he became a Franciscan monk but later renounced monastic life and is known for his poets and satirical dramas... I love that he looks like he's rapping here!) and of Fernando Pessoa. He was considered one of the greatest Portuguese writers - apparently he wrote under hundreds of different aliases in his time. We sat and chilled with him at his table in front of the café Brasileira.

This is apparently the oldest bookshop in the world! Pretty tiling.

This was just outside the cathedral Carmel. 

The Santa Justa elevator... we kind of went up this, in a round about way (which avoided the hour long queue!) to enjoy the views...

After a couple of hours in the sun, Doron decided that we were all in need of some refreshments. This was when we discovered Ginjinha, one of the favoured drinks in Portugal. It's a liquor that's made from sour cherries (ginja berries), and is traditionally enjoyed in a chocolate cup - drink the drink, eat the cup, everyone's a winner! We bought a bottle of this to take home.

There was lots of hype around the Main Square, as it was close to 25th April, the national holiday of Freedom Day in Lisbon, which celebrates the revolution of 1974.

After hours and hours of walking up some very steep hills and learning all about the city, lunch was the closest cafe we could find! We happened across the best Pastel de Nata (custard tarts) here that we'd tried over the whole trip though, which was a happy mistake. These are a delicious Portuguese traditional tart, and taste nothing like the custard tarts we get back here at home. 

The beer museum was just around the corner from the cafe, so we decided to have a look... It was... hmm... how to put it.. RUBBISH. We spent a grand total of 10 minutes walking around a few noticeboards reading beer facts, before heading back out into the sun and enjoying the real thing!

It was a long day full of lots of walking, and lots of photos! It was definitely my favourite day there - I really can't recommend Sandeman's walking tours enough! For more information, click here.

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